This entry was posted on
Thursday, September 29th, 2005 at
2:19 pm and is filed
under The War on Stupid.
Blair has done all he can to stifle discussion and debate on his Iraq policy during the Labour Party Conference…
1. A meeting for consultation or discussion.
2. An exchange of views.
1. A country of southwest Asia.
2. The one issue that has done more damage to the Labour Party than any other.
3. The one issue that threatens or compromises every domestic policy proposed or promoted at this same conference.
So what happens when you don’t allow open discussion but still allow Blair-faithful cabinet members to spout their opinions and justifications? Well, this:
Telegraph – Heckler, 82, who dared called Straw a liar is held under terrorist law: The Foreign Secretary was telling the conference that Britain was in Iraq “for one reason only” – to help the elected Iraqi government – when Walter Wolfgang shouted: “That’s a lie and you know it.”
Guardian – Heckler, 82, wins apology from Labour: Mr Wolfgang tried to re-enter the hall, but was refused permission under Section 44 of the Prevention of Terrorism Act. His conference pass was also confiscated.
BBC – Blair apology to ejected heckler: Mr Blair said “it is difficult for stewards who are volunteers” when someone is interrupting a speech… Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt said: “It was clearly an overreaction, a dreadful overreaction by stewards, who were understandably concerned about security. Obviously I hope the apology will be accepted, and just as important, lessons learnt from it.”
Well, there you go. Lessons learned, no harm done. Right?
1. It needs to be noted that this is not the first ejection; only the first ejection to be reported.
2. Blair’s camp – knowing but not really caring that the man had been refused re-entry under Section 44 of the Prevention of Terrorism Act – were more concerned about how the initial ejection looked on film. They made no comment on the matter until they saw the footage so they could determine whether damage control was necessary.
3. All apologies were tempered with blame laid squarely on the shoulders of a few well-meaning but over-eager stewards – with clear instructions from those making the ‘apologies’… kind of like certain law-enforcement officers with clear instructions and certain soldiers and spooks with clear instructions.
(UPDATE – Or was he? This afternoon Reuters were still reporting that: Wolfgang was briefly arrested using anti-terrorism powers.)
The bottom line is that apologies have been made, so it’s all over and it shouldn’t worry your little heads that an anti-terror Act was used to stifle legitimate debate.
There it is. That’s the bit you need to be worried about.
What you are looking here is the embryo of terrorism.
I can hear groans from the extreme right wing of ‘Truly Christian’ Society, so let’s begin by addressing the extreme right wing of ‘Truly Muslim’ Society; specifically the bastards who feel it necessary to bomb innocent people to get their point across.
Terrorists #1 – blowing people up
We allow cluster bombs to be marketed on our shores and use depleted uranium in munitions. We also allow the ‘extraordinary rendition’ of prisoners and stand by while valuable allies torture people. We even keep schtum about outright massacres if we think we can get away with it. But even that’s OK, because all of these acts are necessary in the global war on terror.
We can never – and must never – admit that these acts themselves provoke further terrorism.
Allow me to be so full of myself as to quote… erm, myself: Use napalm on civilians, condone torture and suppression or torture people yourself and it is quite likely that you’ll upset people in a way that drives them to actions they would not have considered before (and/or makes them more susceptible to the cold-hearted fucktards who seek to recruit them). The only way to fight the terrorists is to rob them of their assets. Their primary asset right now is the indefensible actions of our governments. This works for them from the ground up (the more people who have sympathy for their cause, the more able they are to move freely and take action).
Message: Continuing to deny reality actually makes the problem worse.
The same very human mechanism that caused Walter Wolfgang to shout “That’s a lie and you know it!” is the very same one that drives and/or enables many terrorists (and – yes – here I will acknowledge that those at the top of this dungheap often take a more prosaic approach – just like our own leaders).
I can hear those right-wingers screaming again. How does one man saying seven words compare to blowing up a train or hacking someone’s head off for a propaganda video?
Well, I’m whittling down to it, so please bear with me. This is a pretty straightforward point, but in these shrill and uncertain times, it needs to be approached in stages to truly appreciate it.
With this, we move on the animal rights protestors….
Terrorists #2 – scaring the fuck out of people in their homes
As you must acknowledge that not all Muslims who object to the crimes against them are terrorists, so too must you acknowledge that not all animal-rights activists are terrorists.
But some animal-rights activists firebomb property and steal the remains of relatives. Acts of this extreme nature have ensured the passing of legislation that defines such acts (and those that may possibly lead to them) as acts of terrorism. I’d be inclined to agree with the point about the acts themselves, but defining actions that lead to them as terrorism and applying harsh, ill-defined legislation against such ‘enabling’ acts that might lead somewhere nasty puts us on a very slippery slope… especially as it’s catch-all legislation that now makes it illegal to protest in front of all places of residence – including Downing St.
But the problem is that these people see animal rights as an important issue, and they feel increasingly that their expressions of this view are being stamped on, drowned out and shut down. I’d be inclined to agree with that point, especially as so much work goes into tarring them all with the terrorism brush and insisting that animal experimentation only takes place because of the necessary work done by the saintly pharmaceutical companies.
This attempt to stifle and shut down debate under cover of zero-tolerance of terrorism enrages animal rights activists. Some who feel they have little choice take that Big Step Beyond Reason, and the next thing you know grandma’s bones are kidnapped and hidden in a shed in Burton-Upon-Trent.
Repeat message: Continuing to deny reality actually makes the problem worse.
The same very human mechanism that caused Walter Wolfgang to shout “That’s a lie and you know it!” is the very same one that drives and/or enables many animal rights activists… including those who set up stalls in your local High St and confront you and your children with graphic images of suffering animals.
I’m not a big fan of this, but I can understand the frustration they must be feeling.
Here I need to bring a comment to your attention as we prepare to whittle down once again; it was made here at Bloggerheads on January 28 and has stuck with me for quite a while now: Received an e-mail from a learned woman who said during the preliminary days of WWII in Germany, the Futurist groups did everything they could to wake people up – loud music, wild artwork – actually shaking people in the street trying to alert people to what was coming, all to no avail. Sometimes I wonder if it is the same here – everyone, including our congressional reps are either asleep or under some sort of spell and we hammer away until our fingers are bloody trying to wake them up.
Terrorists #3 – please refrain from shooting the messenger
I’ve lead a charge/campaign or two myself in the past, but I don’t think that the true force behind this comes from me.
I have this thing in my head I call a people-meter. I rely on it personally, professionally and politically; especially the latter, as I’m often pitted against people with much larger budgets and/or better control over mainstream media.
I cannot think of a single campaign that marks me as someone truly exceptional. After all, even if you consider yourself to be one-in-a-million, you have to remember that there are over a billion people on Teh Interwebs…. which means that there are over a thousand people out there who are also one-in-a-million. This thought can be humbling or frightening, depending on your point of view.
(Here comes the bit that should cause you great concern – prepare yourselves.)
So right now – here in the UK – we are dealing with the following:
– Your humble author who, for argument’s sake, will temporarily consider himself to be one-in-a-million.
– UK population: 60 million
– UK online population: let’s call it a conservative 30 million
– UK online population who share my views on Iraq: Let’s allow for a general shift in polls and just halve it for now – 15 million
Apply the one-in-a-million to this and you’re looking at 15 people in the UK who can do what I do.
But here – again – I need to remind you that I’m not that exceptional.
Apply the generally-accepted ‘2% of online users who blog’ percentage to that 15 million and you’re looking at 300,000 people who may wish to lead or follow any given campaign.
These are people who see Blair’s version of events fed to the general public, but are made aware of some uncomfortable truths via Teh Interwebs.
None of them are happy bunnies, and not all of them are willing to simply admit defeat. And – almost certainly – not all of them operate within what I would call reasonable boundaries.
These are the people who register on the aforementioned people-meter. Before any grass-roots campaign launches, what needs to be taken into account is how many people will go for it. The most successful campaigns I’ve run have started with the people-meter ticking over first and telling me that enough people care about such-and-such to take action and make the effort worthwhile.
Rather than leading a charge alone, I’ve found myself instead tapping into wider public feeling and leading a small individual aspect of it.
The 2005 General Election is a good case in point – Backing Blair was only one of 4 campaigns with the same broad agenda, designed to inform and empower those who might otherwise admit defeat in the face of official messaging.
The core Backing Blair website reached over a quarter of a million people during the election. An earlier project – Chasing Bush – reached 122,749 unique visitors during Bush’s visit to the UK. This project was also designed to inform and empower those who might otherwise admit defeat in the face of official messaging.
Other campaigns such as Guantanamo Bay Lock-Up Day failed because I was wrong about the level of public feeling, but I think it’s fair to say that – on measuring public feeling – I’ve been right at least half of the time.
You’d best pray to your God that I’m wrong this time… because my people-meter is telling me that we are reaching a critical tipping point. And here we come back to Walter Wolfgang…
The Foreign Secretary was telling the conference that Britain was in Iraq “for one reason only” – to help the elected Iraqi government – when Walter Wolfgang shouted: “That’s a lie and you know it.”
Been there. Done that. I share his frustration. So do a lot of other people.
Happily for you, due to environment or genetics, I’m unlikely to kill anyone to make my point.
But don’t think that lets you off the hook… the same part of my mind that is not willing to accept the death, torture or oppression of others enrages me to the point where I consider actions that I would not have considered before. I said as much over at Chicken Yoghurt a few days ago: I feel myself becoming more radicalised by the day. There’s so much stuff that can’t be fixed or even addressed properly without feeding Blair a richly-deserved shit-sandwich first. I suspect he knows this. Thus the need to extend the ramparts.
Witness the extending ramparts, folks…
BBC – Clarke to ‘eliminate disrespect’: Charles Clarke has vowed to “eliminate” anti-social behaviour and disrespect in society by the time of the next general election “whenever it comes”. The home secretary also denied government policy was to blame for the 7 July London bombings. And he pledged to protect human rights “and the values which underlie them”. But he said the right of people to be protected from “indiscriminate” terrorism was “at least as important” as protecting terrorists from torture.
That’s a message for me, that is. Me and everyone like me.
Shut the fuck up or get your collar felt. By the way, here’s yet another denial about the importance of Iraq, plus some empty words from the ‘climb over bodies to claim the moral high ground‘ and sometimes torture is OK crowd. PS – There’s nothing you can do about it.
As long as these denials continue… as long as Blair and his cronies continue on their draconian path… I am going to fight.
1. As the fight gets more desperate, I am going to take more desperate measures.
2. I am not alone.
3. What you have just witnessed is exactly the same process that has led to the kidnapping of human remains and the bombing of innocent people… by our own people.
Now, I have the power to pull up short of certain acts or withdraw from the fight altogether, but I’m fighting for necessary freedoms against people who I know use obfuscation and outright lies in order to excuse, hide or justify needless deaths. And even if I do abstain or withdraw… I am not alone.
Here – finally – we come to the home-grown threat that Blair is fostering. Here’s where many have already taken the step from shouting ‘liar’ to strapping explosives to their back.
I wouldn’t regard myself to be anywhere near this stage…
Telegraph – We are at war: I am a soldier: After reciting an Islamic prayer, Khan declared in a broad Yorkshire accent: “Our words have no impact upon you. Therefore I’m going to talk to you in language that you will understand. Our words are dead until we give them life with our blood.”
… I’m actually somewhere in the neighbourhood of the Space Hijackers (people who were immediately brought to mind when I first read that ‘futurist’ comment).
But what happens when someone like me feels more frustrated? What happens when they consider their message in need of a little extra punch?
What happens when a protestor or an activist is wrongly labelled or targeted as a terrorist and thinks they may as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb?
Even if that Big Step Beyond Reason isn’t taken, it should cause you some concern, because it’s coming to your High St soon.
Fuck ‘urban intellectuals‘… prepare yourselves for Urban Terrorism.
Terrorists #4 – scaring the fuck out of people in the street
It’s been wheeled out often enough lately, and here it comes again; freedom of speech does not give you the right to yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre. But there’s a large, grey expanse between yelling ‘liar’ and yelling ‘fire’.
Take the following idea, which I recently rejected as reasonable/viable. (Others may disagree, but the need for an example is greater that the risk of this one ‘escaping’… and this is the most harmless example that I have to hand, where I can honestly put my hand up and admit to considering it in my darker moments.)
What you are about to read is true. It is a statement of fact that you cannot deny:
SANTA CLAUS DOES NOT EXIST
Take this truth into the High St (via stickers, posters and t-shirts) and it becomes something else entirely; it is, in this form, an attack… a message designed to target and disturb the young and innocent.
It is cruel. But is it needlessly cruel?
That is a matter of opinion. Is it right to exploit the third world to keep the consumer goods coming in at a healthy profit? What about the poor kiddies that suffer in those countries? Is it important to make consumers face one uncomfortable truth by using another to shock them out of their reverie? (Don’t bother arguing the point on this; you could do so until you were blue in the face and still have to accept that there are those who think that it is important to deliver this message at this cost.)
Enter the message.
Posters are torn down and replaced. Someone may have to be arrested over it, but sooner or later, it gets reported. The first article is closely followed by the first editorial.
What will follow is endless repeats of ‘Yes, Virginia‘ throughout the mainstream spectrum and – from the right – an assertion that this comes from the religion-hating left because – as we all know – Santa Claus and Jesus Christ are one; eternal and indivisible.
While all of this is going on, someone may even point out the obvious flaw in this campaign – that those who are most vulnerable to it can’t read.
But, depending on the level of hysteria it whips up (and how cowed the opposition feel at the time) it could lead to catch-all legislation that makes it illegal to tell a child any truth that may do them ‘harm’ (in the eyes of the judge who happens to be presiding at the time).
A measure designed to combat lies will be fought with yet more lies and – more importantly – something bordering on terrorism will be labelled terrorism, thereby making it so…. and from there it will get uglier.
I’m not saying that this is exactly how it will play out – as I said, I’ve tried to use a largely harmless example – but we’ve seen this kind of thing happen often enough in the last 4 years to know that it’s not that far from The Land Of Very Bloody Likely.
(And – I’m sure I don’t need to remind you – this is a scenario dealing exclusively with folks who think it’s wrong to blow people up.)
I’m also not saying that this level of activism is right or wrong, I’m only warning you that it’s on the way… I can feel it in my bones.
Every day that passes when those who do wrong are not called to account takes us a step closer.
Every lie fed to the public via mainstream media makes it more likely.
The frustration is growing and it will grow further as long as Blair and others like him are allowed to play their ‘game’ where the rules (such as right and wrong) have changed.
Tony Blair provokes terrorism. By denying what causes it and silencing dissent with anti-terror powers, he creates the very conditions in which terrorism thrives.
And that includes the new-and-improved urban variety (coming soon to a High St near you).